Matt Hancock leaves Sky News’ Sophy Ridge speechless as she gets key NHS figure wrong

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SKY News host Sophy Ridge suffered an embarrassing moment during her interview with Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Saturday morning as he was forced to correct her on a key NHS figure.

The Sky News host was preparing to ask the Health Secretary a question on NHS spending allocated to private companies. But as she began the question with the proposition that “currently 7.3 percent of NHS spending goes on private providers”, Matt Hancock interrupted her with a resounding “no”. Ms Ridge struggled to say anything for a few seconds then asked: “No? 7.3 percent of NHS spending goes on private providers in 2018/19.”

The Tory frontbencher was forced to correct her: “No. No. That doesn’t include GP surgeries, most GPs are private providers.

“It doesn’t include pharmacists, pharmacies are private businesses.

“The NHS has always provided the services through a mixed economy.

“What matters is that it is free at the point of delivery.

“So I’m against the idea that we would scrap that, I’m against the privatisation of the NHS – the idea that people should pay for it.”

In an attempt to move on from the embarrassing moment, the Sky News presenter asked whether Mr Hancock was prepared to rule out that the percentage of spending allocated to private providers would go up under the Conservative Government after the election. 

Mr Hancock replied: “It depends what you mean.

“I’ve just committed to 6,000 more GPs and most GPs are private companies that are contracted into the NHS.

“So I certainly wouldn’t want to rule out the increase in the number of GPs, no.”

Mr Hancock said the Tories would “fix” the problems in the NHS as he outlined plans for an additional 6,000 doctors in GP surgeries.

He added: “The NHS is doing more than ever before, it’s more productive than ever before, it’s got more funding than ever before.

“And I am completely straightforward where there are problems like the pressure on GP services: we will fix them.”

He said he was against privatisation of the NHS, but told the programme: “The NHS has always bought things from private businesses.

“Some things it directly provides and of course we employ 1.4 million people, but other things the NHS buys from companies or private partnerships which is what most GP surgeries are or we provide drugs through pharmacies and pharmacies are private businesses.

“What matters in the NHS to patients is ‘are we going to get the treatment that we need, at the time we need it, free at the point of delivery, according to need not ability to pay’, and emphatically yes we will and we are putting in the taxpayers’ money to allow that to happen.”

It comes as the Conservatives came under fire after the Guardian reported the number of NHS patients having surgery in private hospitals has nearly trebled since 2010.

The paper said the NHS paid for 214,967 people in England to have an operation in a private hospital in 2009-10, but that the figure rose to 613,833 last year.

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